Making her Theatre B debut directing Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Darcy Bakkegard is no stranger to the theatre. A graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead’s theatre program, she is currently in her first year as the Director of Theatre/English Teacher at West Fargo High School, where she directed The Government Inspector this fall and helped choreograph Beauty & the Beast in conjunction with Sheyenne High School. This after two years spent teaching theatre in Istanbul. We sat down with Darcy to find out more about, well, Darcy.
Theatre B (TB): When did you discover your love of theatre?
Darcy Bakkegard (DB): I realized it during my junior/senior summer in high school. I got to be a part of the Straw Hat Players, and it was exhausting. Like, 80 hour weeks. But I got home and realized I didn’t want to do anything else, I wanted to do it again right away.
I wanted to go to DePaul (in Chicago) for college. I didn’t tell my parents, and I went and bought a plane ticket to Chicago and got a hotel room so I could audition at DePaul. It’s the naughtiest thing I did in high school, and all in the name of theatre.
TB: You didn’t go to DePaul, though.
DB: No, I ended up at MSUM, which was great. I had a great experience there, got to be in some incredible shows.”
TB: And then you ended up in Turkey?
DB: Yea, I taught for two years in Istanbul. I studied abroad in college and was hooked on travel and seeing new things, so I went to an overseas teaching fair in Iowa and was offered a few jobs. Being Director of Theatre at Robert College, Istanbul, Turkey, was by far the coolest – exactly what I wanted to experience.
And it was amazing. I was able to focus on theatre full-time, teaching theatre classes and directing plays. I got to use theatre to help teach students English, helped other teachers integrate theatre-based strategies into their curriculum (even in Physics!), and lead four workshops for teachers on using theatre in the classroom. There was an expectation of doing challenging theatre, so I was able to do works not typically done at a high school (The Pillowman, Antigone, Blood Wedding, God of Carnage) with some very fun, interesting kids.
And I got to travel. A lot. Istanbul is within four hours of almost anywhere in Europe/the Middle East/Africa. Cheap fights and a school year with built-in breaks meant exploring all of Turkey and many other locations for work and pleasure.
More importantly, I learned a lot about myself and what I want in my life. Theatre is key for my mental health. I can live without it, but am happier and more focused and more alive with it. It feeds me.
TB: So how did you end up back in F/M?
DB: Depending on how you look at it, I moved back for either the lamest or most romantic reason: a boy. We had started dating before I left, then started traveling together while I was overseas (meeting up in Egypt, Italy, Greece, Israel, Morocco on my school breaks). I had a two year contract, he couldn’t work in Turkey, I can work/teach anywhere and we decided to give love a chance. So I’m back. And it’s great being together.
TB: When we asked you if you’re be interested in directing Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, I think the words were barely out before you said yes.
DB: I just love Christopher Durang. Once, in high school, I skipped class to write an essay on why Durang is my favorite writer.
TB: You skipped class to write an essay?
DB: I know! I’m so lame! But to be fair, it was for a scholarship for three grand, so totally worth it. Is that naughtier than booking a ticket to Chicago without telling your parents?
I love this play. It’s funny and goofy and real at the same time. Everything is just a little too big to be ‘true’, and little too goofy, but at the same time, at the heart of it all are these siblings, dealing with each other and with disappointment and with regret. And you realize how connected this is to all our lives.